I grew up privileged. The mere fact that I have space to write a blog about mental health should probably allude that fact. White. Middle class. Loving parents. Conservative Christian. Homeschooled. College-educated. Successful career.
My life was in many ways idyllic. And for 26 years I pulled off the appearance of the perfection I so adamantly craved. But if you had looked closely at the bright exterior, you would have noticed the constantly plastered cracks that hid the drowning person beneath. And as is so often the case, eventually the heavily plastered cracks were no longer able to hold back the flood waters.
In 2017 I burnt out of my career. It was a long time in coming, but still caught me utterly by surprise as I expect anyone who has suffered a breakdown can attest to. For so many years I had piled more and more on my precariously wobbling life. I expected a few things to slip now and then, but I would soldier on as I had always done. Instead what happened was an utter collapse. And it shook me to my core. My career seemingly done, my identity slipping, life falling to pieces, staring down a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Depression.
After quitting my job, I expected to recover and forge ahead. I moved forward with plans to marry my fiance in six months, sure I would be back on my feet by then. Oh, how sweet my denial was then about how deep pain can go.
In 2018, promptly one month after marrying my husband, my conservative Christian faith fell apart. We are talking every structure broken, as if someone had taken a jackhammer to my foundation. All I could see was dust. It felt as if the beliefs that had once been living water were slowly choking me to death. I cannot tell you how much I value my husband for holding space for me in this crisis that I’m sure seemed terrifying from his own Christian perspective.
Then, in 2019 I had to quit a second job after a deluge of debilitating panic attacks that left me unable to work and many days even leave my apartment. The shame of being unemployed again was so devastating it often left unable to function.
So there I was twenty-eight years old, trying so hard to hold onto the pieces of my life that were so swiftly slipping through my fingers. Seeking to conjure up the energy to give something, anything to my year old marriage. Struggling to find a reason to maintain a faith that no longer made sense to me. Straining to see an ounce of worth in the shell of a human being I had become.
I would love to tell you the story ends in some inspirational antidote of how I turned everything around. Oh, how I enjoy those types of stories. But life rarely works that way. I have not found the prayer, meditation, mindset, exercise, or magic pill that will fix my life (If you do, send it my way!). Instead I have found acceptance, gentleness, hope, connection, and presence. Two agonizingly slow steps forward, one (sometimes two) gut wrenching step back.
This blog is not about answers, but rather experience, questions, musings, success and failures. Here you will find stories of life in the trenches of living with mental illness, faith deconstruction, and identity forging. This journey is far from neat, easy, or comfortable. But through it I am learning to appreciate this imperfect space we all live in with all it’s messy, beautiful, broken, and holy variations.
Life in crisis, mental illness, faith question, crumbling identities. These things can leave us feeling isolated, as if we are constantly screaming into the void, but no one can understand our words. My hope for this blog is that it helps someone feel less alone. It is an incredible thing to be seen, understood, and valued. My story will not be yours, but I hope sharing it will hold space for you to claim and share your own.